Madam chair, ladies and gentlemen,
I am very honoured to be invited to address you at this meeting.
That I am standing here is quite a challenge for me because it is about a delicate subject that I will talk to you.
As you may know, my organization is working on the human right to die in dignity, a subject that I know a lot about since I have been president of several Ethical Commissions in my country, president of the WFRtDS and since 2008 I am the president of RtDE.
Human Rights are fundamental in dealing with others, on a global scale and between people everywhere.
As the Human Rights Committee we should not only talk to, but also listen to others and try to understand why people differ from our, who are we?, point of view. Yesterday we spoke of healthcare for elderly people, I would like to go on a little further by talking about elderly people at their end-of- life!
We have the right to life (article 2) but in our view we have also the right to decide how to die in dignity when life is not bearable anymore.
It is an individual’s ultimate achievement to have the possibility to balance rights and obligations when you want to give-up your existence under specific conditions.
This right may never be obstructed by people with other points of view.
Universal human rights are only possible in a world where everybody is equal.
From my experience as a surgeon-oncologist I do know how people can fight for their life, alas, sometimes in vain.
And in those hopeless cases they ask me to help them to die in dignity, not because they want to end their life but to end their suffering.
Who are we to ignore such requests??
But, and this is very Important to stress, euthanasia is only possible after proper palliative care.
We, the RtDE INGO, support that every competent person after thorough reflection can choose for any kind of medical aid in dying.
I quote Derek Humphry one of the founders of WF :
“Freedom to die in a way of our own choosing is the ultimate civil liberty”.
Aycke O. A. Smook